Negley…is carving out a niche exploring 21st-century masculinity issues for little dudes, in sincere and graphically sophisticated picture books…This time he gives a fresh spin to the eternal mystery of a dad's youthful past…Negley is walking a tricky line heregiving a special shout-out to men for making the sacrifice of personal freedom required to be a parent, not to mention taking on the increased housework children bring, when women have always done the same with no fanfarebut he pulls it off with graceful understatement.
Keith Negley's playful and emotional art tells this story of a new father who is no longer the cool guy he once was. He looks back wistfully on his crazy times playing in a band, riding a motorcycle, and getting tattoos. Those days may be behind him, but his young son still thinks he's the coolest guy in the world.
A boy is certain that his father used to be a real rocker. Evidence is everywhere, from the drum kit in the closet to his dad’s heavily tattooed arms. So how did he turn into someone who vacuums, folds laundry, and drives an SUV? “My dad having fun? I wish I could have seen it,” thinks the boy as Negley (Tough Guys Have Feelings Too) pictures the man crouching in back-to-back spreads. In the first, he’s roaring into a mike on stage, red Mohawk ablaze; in the second, he’s tying his son’s shoes. Nagley’s punchy graphics bring real emotion to a story that’s sensitive with just a bit of an edge—not unlike the boy’s father. Ages 3–5. (July)
Negley is carving out a niche exploring 21st-century masculinity issues for little dudes, in sincere and graphically sophisticated picture books that design-conscious parents will be happy to keep around the house.
—The New York Times
Negley's punchy graphics bring real emotion to a story that's sensitive with just a bit of an edge [...]
—Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
It’s very sweet—without ever being too saccharine about it.
—Slate, The Best Children's Books for Father's Day
The brief, succinct text conveys — with just the right amount of humour — a child’s amazement at his dad’s life pre-fatherhood, and the wonderful art does a masterful job of expressing both that humour and the unspoken father-son bond.
A sweet little story about father and son, while also serving as a wink and a nod to parents whose party days are behind them.
—The Globe and Mail
Negley perfectly demonstrates the sacrifices a parent makes for their child, but how beautiful those sacrifices really are. […]This is a truly heart-warming tale and I would strongly recommend that not only children read this book but adults as well. The story is a solid reminder to appreciate our parents and if you are a parent, congratulate yourself because you are awesome.
When I first read this book, I thought, finallya picture book other dudes can purchase for their friends on the way to becoming new fathers. The perfect baby shower gift for the men and women in your lives with a self-deprecating sense of humor and an inward cringe every time they catch glimpses of their Harley gathering dust next to their minivan.
—Jill Saginario, Papercuts J.P.
As it turns out, it doesn’t matter if you wear socks with sandals, because if your kid thinks that you’re cool, then you’re cool. It’s everyone else that thinks you’re a giant dork.
—Fatherly, The Best Kid's Books About Fathers in 2016
With a striking graphical design, surprising fold-out spreads and an almost vintage-inspired palette, there’s not a lot you won’t enjoy about this fresh and original story.
—Picture Books Blogger
Negley is flawless at what he does: Illustrations filled with big, bold blocks of colour accompanying stories meant to depict a 21st century ideal of masculinity and fatherhood. He doesn’t do bumbling fathers. He doesn’t do emotional unavailability. He does dads who love their kids and men who feel, and thank God for it.
A richly warm depiction of the modern father-son relationship that avoids over-sentimentality with its clever ring of truth that brings a wry smile.
—My Little Style File
PreS-Gr 1—This is the story of a father and a son and the day they spend together. This simple premise mixes humor and the perfect amount of emotional heft for a story that resonates. Through spare text, the boy narrates that he knows his dad "used to be cool," because he was in a band and rode a motorcycle. As he wonders why his dad gave it all up, readers infer that the father would rather spend time with his son than pursue his old interests. The illustrations use a primary color scheme that supports the poignant mood created by the text. In many of the illustrations, the focal point is a single object in the foreground that takes up most of the space on the page (the motorcycle in the yard, the father kneeling over to tie his son's shoe). This makes the illustrations engaging, especially for young readers. The dad is drawn with prominent tattoos, which lends the father/son duo an inclusive feel and presents one representation of a modern family. The most appealing element of the book is that it works on two levels. Children will appreciate the humor and bold illustrations, while the greater message will be meaningful to parents and other adult readers. VERDICT This is a recommended purchase for any children's collection and would be a great addition to storytime programming.—Celia Dillon, The Brearley School, New York City
A child suspects that his pops was once pretty cool and wonders what changed.Negley's follow-up to Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) (2015) is all about the subtext. In his poster-style apartment scenes, evidence of coolness abounds, from drum kits and an electric guitar to the skateboard with the painted skull—not to mention the parental forearms festooned with wild tattoos. But while the young narrator visualizes rock concerts, orange mohawks, and fast motorcycles, what he sees is dad, hair now black and conservatively cut, folding laundry, vacuuming, and taking his son out (in a compact station wagon) for a romp in the park and a walk on the beach. He's so serious now. "Something must have happened," the lad puzzles, "for him to give it all up." Perceptive readers will figure out what—or more accurately, who—"happened." And as a further addition to the unspoken narrative, aside from one picture on the wall, there is no sign of a second parent. Dad and lad are both sunburnt pink, but there is some variation in the skin tone of passersby in the park. At day's end the boy admits "OK, so maybe he's still a tiny bit cool." But then, rocking out on the way home, dad flashes heavy-metal-style horns out the window: "Yeah—nope, he's not."Yes, he sure is. (Picture book. 6-9)